Overview and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

This article provides a summary of a 3-year study on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) undertaken by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. The study, which encompasses 62 countries from all parts of the world, is largely based on the reports of States Parties to the CRC Committee and the Committee's concluding comments on them. It addresses the general measures of implementation of the Convention, which include law reform; establishment of national independent human-rights institutions for children, national plans of action, and coordinating bodies; allocation of resources for children; monitoring mechanisms on implementation of the Convention; awareness raising and advocacy; and measurement of the involvement of civil society, including children, in the realisation of children's rights. The measures are complementary and are a sign of the indivisibility of children's rights. For this reason, the study addresses them individually and looks at the interaction between them. The study also documents how the CRC has stimulated participation of civil society in its implementation. The preliminary findings of this study show that a considerable process of social change has been set in motion. They also indicate that law reform is the general measure to which the greatest attention has been paid by State Parties. In at least 50 of the countries studied, the Convention has been incorporated into the national legal framework by legislative reform, including constitutional amendment. The study concludes that, although the Convention on the Rights of the Child is not the sole cause of the developments discussed, there are clear indications that State authorities and civil society have responded positively to the obligations and challenges contained in this treaty, with a positive effect on the rights of children, including their right to health. It argues that much more, however, still needs to be done to understand the complex processes of implementation of the Convention. One key area for future research is the tangible effect of the initiatives documented by our study on the lives of children.

Authors: M. Santos Pais; S. Bissell
Publisher: The Lancet, 2006

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